Yesterday was really something.
A race to the top after five grueling days.
It was like a marathon.
The bureau reported, almost gleefully,
we had done it! we had broken the previous record.
It almost made it worthwhile.
The hottest day in the State’s history!
Yet people kept their cool
Even when the grid crashed.
Emergency Services stayed on top of things.
No one died.
We phoned each other.
Are you okay? We asked.
Yes! I’m okay, I barked after the tenth inquiry.
I was losing my cool.
Other states get floods, fires.
We get heatwaves.
By morning the cool had come.
We waved the heat goodbye.
have you experienced similar conditions?
what’s the worst weather conditions you experienced?
My body alarms me.
It rings two or three times a night.
Who’s in charge here anyway?
Poetry flowed from me
Like water from a garden hose.
Days were diamonds.
My feet horses’ hooves.
Nothing defeated me.
I was sharp as Sherlock.
Prolific as Zola.
I had two hounds.
The wheels turn.
Accept, my friend tells me, Embrace.
Loss is gain.
Now is the new normal.
I like them too.
I thought I was a basket case
But there’s this thirteen year old
I read about
Who takes anti-depressants
Two drugs for attention deficit disorder
& she takes what I take too.
I know growing up is tough
But I didn’t know it could be
Tough as this.
I could take other drugs,
Ones that she takes
But the doc reckons I’ve got this far
I can go the rest of the way.
I just hope that little thirteen year old kid
Makes it out of the forest okay.
For nights and nights and nights I lay on my pillow, worrying, listening to the rain, even though the skies were clear and starlit and the moon shone through my window like a lantern and I wondered what else I was hearing that wasn’t there or not hearing that was until one day I had my ears syringed with warm water and the wax flowed out in little honey-coloured clumps into a dish the nurse held for me and I no longer heard it rain except when it did.
What seems to be the trouble , he asks .
I cough and splutter all over the place .
He gets the message .
Sits down to write the certificate .
There , he says , handing the form to me . This should do the trick .
I peruse it quickly .
There’s something missing, I say, why I had time off .
That’s right . If you had Alzheimers or a social disease would you want
people to know ?
Certainly not .
My point exactly .
But I thought you had to put something down .
No , he says . And if they ask , tell them to take a running jump . Better still , tell them to phone me and I’ll tell them to take a running jump . Only in stronger terms .
He stands up . Shakes my hand .
The next day at work I hand in the certificate .
He’s right .
They see the blank space but no one says a word .
I push it a bit further .
On the official form , the one you fill out yourself , where it says Illness I put down ‘See Certificate’ .
It feels good . It really does .
I’ve found a new way to treat with the world .
I remember Uncle Bert.
He had had a stroke.
His mouth was always open
Though he never spoke.
He sat on his armchair
Alongside Aunty Pat
Who did the speaking for him.
She was good at that.
He once looked a film star
A Gable or a Flynn.
And often charmed the ladies
with a rakish grin.
But then one day he emptied
and forever after that
Loyal as a labrador
he followed Aunty Pat.
What’s the first word you’re going to forget? The first word that’s going to slip through the sieve in your brain?
The name of your partner, child, grandson?
With me it was an item of food.
A breakfast food we eat once a week on Wednesday. I knew it began with ‘c’ and that it was a French-sounding word like ‘croutons’ but it wasn’t that.
I could have asked my partner but I didn’t want to embarrass myself.
I did not want to acknowledge that ‘the forgetting’ had begun.
Then after a week it came to me in a flash, like the click of a thumb. I wrote it down on a pad with a marker pen just in case but I needn’t have bothered.
Now I enjoy my croissants that little bit more.